• Advocacy, Education

UBT in the NYT

On Sunday the NYT ran an op-ed by James Parrott on the wisdom of abolishing the Unincorporated Business Tax (which proposal the Freelancers Union is strongly backing--see UBT Watch). Parrott agrees that the UBT subjects independent workers to unfair double taxation, and therefore that we should be exempt from the tax. "The original idea behind the unincorporated business tax was to ensure that the elite of New York’s corporate services sector — legal, accounting and financial firms that are private partnerships — would pay a tax on profits just as corporations do. But this tax now hits computer programmers, writers, graphic designers and other freelancers because they are — like the private partnership firms — unincorporated. These workers are not businesses — but the rules treat them as if they were, and make them pay the tax. Of course, if these workers live in New York City, they must also pay the city’s personal income tax — so they are taxed twice on the same income. This double taxation is a burden on an increasing number of New Yorkers, because more and more companies are choosing to treat workers as freelancers or independent contractors to avoid responsibility for payroll taxes and having to pay health insurance and other benefits." However, Parrott thinks we should only exempt freelancers making under $200,000 a year, and continue collecting the UBT from the wealthy lawyers and financiers in private practice for whom the tax was originally written.Mayor Bloomberg's current budget proposal, an across-the-board cut, Parrott finds regressive. I definitely, definitely see his point and I am all for progressive taxation. On the other hand, tax reform can be difficult and sometimes must be done with a club, not a chisel. Maybe once we can get rid of the UBT we can recapture that $23 million by making up a special tax for the lawyers and the traders--a Blackberry tariff, or a black-Lincoln-Continental surcharge.

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